[B-Greek] Acts 2:41A LOGOS

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Jul 22 17:02:36 EDT 2003

At 12:25 PM -0700 7/22/03, waldo slusher wrote:
>The NET Bible has a footnote on this verse by
>indicating that the word translated here as "message"
>is "Grk 'word'".
>Dr. Larkin from University of Durham (Ph. D.) has a
>commentary on this Book. At this juncture, he has
>"message (literally, word)..."
>This seems most remarkable to me that these scholars
>give the impression that LOGOS "literally" means word,
>which implies that it doesn't "literally" mean message
>(since they seem to be clarifying this translation).
>Why would someone at such scholarly levels imply that
>LOGOS has only one literal meaning? Doesn't this
>contradict the understanding gained by the works of
>linguists and lexographers over the years? LOGOS has
>many literal meaning, not one!
>If a translation gives LOGOS the translation "word"
>here in Acts 2:41, would we not say that "LOGOS
>literally means 'message' here"?

I'm not at all clear just what question is being raised in this "message."
I'm not even sure whether it's a question of lexicography or of translation
philosophy. Moreover, it seems to me that there's certainly something
highly questionable about talking about a "literal" meaning of LOGOS,
insofar as that might suggest there's one precise English equivalent of the
Greek word LOGOS while any other English word used to convey the sense of
LOGOS is somehow secondary or metaphorical. And Waldo is right to ask the
question "why someone would imply that LOGOS has only one literal meaning?"
I suspect that neither Larkin nor the NET annotator was thinking very
clearly when formulating the phrasing that Waldo has cited--but show me the
"scholar" who is thinking very clearly AT EVER MOMENT when formulating the
phrasing of anything! I suspect, however, that what both Larkin and the NET
annotator intended or meant was that the #1 dictionary equivalent of LOGOS
is "word." That is, of course, not telling us anything that is very useful.
I'd personally think that it would have been better in this instance to
state that the word LOGOS in the text in question (Acts 2:41a) clearly
means the "message" in the sense of the "proclaimed gospel."

If "word" is what LOGOS means in the literal sense, then what does hRHMA
mean? If one were to speak in abstract terms only, the literal sense of
LOGOS might well be said to be "account"--whether "account" be understood
in a literary or a mathematical or clerical context. I think that there are
several passages in the GNT where "message" is quite appropriate and
probably the single most appropriate word to convey the sense in English of
the Greek LOGOS.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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